Champagne And Music For Valentine’s Day: Olivier Krug Describes The Perfect Pairing

Food & Drink

While most people plan in advance for the perfect champagne, sparkling wine, or other desirable beverage for Valentine’s Day, not everyone considers the ideal music. However, at Krug Champagne House, headquartered in Reims, France, they have been pairing music with Krug Champagne for decades. All of their experiences in this special arena of ‘champagne and music blending,’ may provide you with some inspiration to make your holiday celebration even more memorable.

“When I first joined the company,” stated Olivier Krug, in an online interview, “my father told me that his role was very similar to that of a symphony conductor.” Olivier is a 6th generation family member, and holds the title of Director of the House.

This is because each bottle of Krug Champagne is made up of hundreds of different blending lots, or different musicians, that come together to play music for that one specific release. For example, the most recent release, the Krug Grand Cuvée 170th, is composed of 195 different champagne lots from 12 different years.

“Our job,” continued Olivier Krug, “is to identify the musicians (individual vineyard plots) to play in the symphony of each year.”

Every year, Julie Cavil, Cellar Master at Krug, with a team of 6 to 7 people from the tasting committee, creates more than 4000 tasting notes to determine which wines from each of these plots to include in the most recent Krug Grande Cuvée. The final blend is then aged for a minimum of 7 years in bottle before release. Krug also produces a rosé, two special vineyard blends – Clos d’Ambonnay and Clos dus Mesnil, and vintage wine, if the harvest is suitable for that year.

Tasting notes for the recent release of the Krug Grand Cuvée 170th, include aromas of marzipan, citrus, and ginger with flavors of hazelnut, honey, and brioche. The champagne is full-bodied, yet elegant with a very long finish. “Krug is the most generous expression of Champagne,” noted Olivier Krug.

Music to Match Each Champagne on Krug’s Website

Over the years, Krug has expanded the connection between champagne and music, and started to do research on the topic with IRCAM, a French institute dedicated to the research of music and sound. There have also been a number of academic papers verifying that music can influence taste.

“We know that the type of music changes the perception of wine,” explained Olivier Krug. “People can taste the same wine with different music and experience something unique each time.”

Because of this Krug has created a special tasting room at their winery in France where visitors can taste Krug champagne while listening to different types of music. They have also taken this experience on the road as part of their ‘Krug Echoes’ experience, and invite different musicians to compose music for the champagnes released that year. Most recently, they featured Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who has won a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Golden Globe for his work. Guests were invited to experience his music while tasting the three different Krug Champagnes from the 2008 harvest.

Now Krug has made this music and the music of other composers available on their website, so that anyone can enjoy the exceptionally beautiful harmony with Krug champagne. This makes a great addition to Valentine’s Day or another special occasion with a glass of champagne. Following are some of the more recent music and champagne pairings available:

  • Artist: Ryuichi Sakamoto, Japanese composer, with Suite for Krug in 2008 (28 minutes)
  • Artist: Kris Bower, American composer, with Echo of Krug Grand Cuvée (4 minutes)
  • Artist: Nicolas Paschburg, German composer, with Wind Rowing and Nictiating Membrane (each approx. 2.5 minutes)
  • Artist: Ozark Henry, Belgian musician, with 4 Echoes of Krug (each around 2 minutes)

Krug also has a YouTube channel that features other musicians describing how they composed the music to pair with Krug Champagnes. Examples include Gregory Porter, American jazz singer, songwriter and actor, who has won two Grammy’s, Vhelade, an Italian singer, who combines her African/Sardinian heritage to create engaging upbeat music, and many others.

Experiencing a Champagne and Music Pairing

There are no set guidelines on how to enjoy a champagne and music pairing experience. People enjoy it in different ways – perhaps in a quiet, reflective moment alone; or with a special significant other, or with a group. However, it is fascinating to taste the same glass of champagne while listening to several minutes of different types of music – such as classical, jazz, rock, pop, or something else you enjoy.

Play the first style of music, pour a glass of champagne, and relax back in a comfortable position. Listen to the music, appreciate the color and bubbles in the champagne, and then gently smell the wine (not too much, or the bubbles could tickle your nose). Next, take a sip and let it linger in your mouth, close your eyes, and experience the music and the champagne. Relax, and repeat the experience with at least two more music selections, and/or a different champagne. What do you discover?

Krug and Other Fine Champagnes in High Demand

Some people think that the price of Krug Champagne Cuvée, averaging $242 per 750 ml bottle and soaring as high as $600 per bottle for vintage Krug, is too high. However, recent sales in the premier wine market show that consumers are spending more on higher priced wine. For example, the Comité Champagne, reported record sales revenues for champagne in 2022.

Olivier Krug agreed. “Our sales have been excellent” he said, “but we have a limitation in that we cannot produce enough bottles to satisfy the demand in the market. After all, it takes 10 to 20 years to craft a bottle of Krug, and we cannot rush it.”

It seems that even after the pandemic, and in a recessionary climate, people still want to purchase a few luxuries, such as a special bottle of Champagne.

Olivier Krug explained why. “I think that during the pandemic people had more time to taste a good bottle of wine or champagne at home with family, and they enjoyed it. Now when you look at the newspapers every day, the mindset is: ‘With the world moving so fast, I want to slow down and take the time to enjoy what is good in life.’”

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